Safe At Home (Part 3): Property Protection - Skip to content

Safe At Home (Part 3): Property Protection

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In the first post in our Safe at Home series, we focused on the value of a PERS (personal emergency response system) for seniors, such as medical alert devices. In our second post, we discussed protection from identity theft.

The next question is: what are the best ways to protect a senior’s property?

Typical answers include:

  • Moving to a gated community, or fencing your property with a locking buzzer gate;
  • Installing a burglar alarm, and add lawn signage indicating the property is protected;
  • A dog — or two!

The above is all good advice. And there are other effective, less commonly considered steps seniors can take. Feel free to print out this list and share it with your reverse mortgage clients, prospects, their families, and other seniors you speak with during lunch and learns or similar gatherings:

  • Be alarmed: Elder advocates suggest seniors keep their car keys bedside at night, within easy reach. If they hear a noise outside, or someone trying to enter the house, they can press the car alarm button on their keychain. The alarm will go off and will continue to sound until someone either turns it off or the car battery dies. It’s a built-in security system that most people probably already have and requires no installation. Test the car alarm from inside the house. The alarm will also give a senior time to call 911. Most intruders will take off rather than risk being seen.

It’s also smart for seniors to carry their car keys between their fingers while walking to their car in a parking lot. The alarm would work the same way here, and having the keys handy can surprise a potential attacker and allow the person precious moments to escape or call for help.

The car alarm can also double as a family emergency signal for people who don’t have a personal emergency response system. If something happens, such as a fall or heart attack, and the senior can’t get to a phone, activating the car alarm button will let anyone who is in or around the home know there’s a problem. Make sure the neighbors are aware of your special use of the car alarm so they know to call for help if it goes off unexpectedly. False alarms are harmless — and being vigilant might save a life.

  • Stay trim. Keep foliage around the property well pruned so there’s no place for an intruder to hide. If hiring a gardener is too costly, a student may be able to do the job just as well. Bonus: a younger person who is available on a regular basis could also help with a few simple tasks that are no longer easy for a senior to manage, such as changing light bulbs.
  • Light up! When a rash of vandalism broke out in one high-profile neighborhood, an active couple in their 70s who travel frequently decided to install motion-sensor floodlights above their garage doors. The slightest movement on the street after dark (even scurrying animals), activates the security lights, which bathe the area in blinding white light for three minutes. No attempts have been made to vandalize or break into their home.

Finally, some of the best tried-and-true property protection advice that is often overlooked, and not just by seniors, includes:

  • Install deadbolt locks on all exterior doors.
  • Use timed indoor lighting so the home is illuminated every night, whether someone is there or not.
  • Keep drapes or blinds closed at night and open during the day.
  • If you plan to be away from home for any length of time, stop your mail and newspapers, or hire a house sitter to stay in your home. Having someone onsite is often the best protection because intruders generally prefer to target an empty house.




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  1. Hers is another simple suggestion:

    Even if you do not have a home alarm system, get a yard sign and window stickers that indicate you do have one. It will be a deterrent to would be robbers.

  2. Hi Dick ~

    That’s a great idea ~ unless intruders are wise to it!

    Thanks s always for your input and smart suggestions.

    ~ Amara


  4. Hi Cliff ~

    You’ve got excellent property protection for the price of good food and love.


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